Airsoft Gun Gears 20:1, 16:1, 8:1, 6:1, and 4:1 – What’s the difference?

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By Lora Blandon

A high gear ratio allows you to accelerate the engine faster than a lower gear ratio. The engine will rev higher with a low gear ratio, but it won’t accelerate as fast. Airsoft engines come in different ratios. 20:1 is the highest, and 16:1 is the lowest. A gear ratio can be found by dividing the engine’s output speed (in revolutions per minute or RPM) by its input speed (in RPM). The reason for having a high gear ratio on an Airsoft gun is the acceleration of your shots and movement speed.

For example, if you have a low-range gun, it may take some time to shoot at long distances because your shots are being slowed down first, then accelerating at a lower rate. If you have an airsoft gun with a higher-gear ratio, your shots will go farther and quicker because it accelerates faster than slower.

Airsoft gun from inside

20:1 Gear Ratio (Belt-Drive)

A 20:1 gear ratio is the highest ratio available, and while it allows a higher RPM, it also causes more wear and tear on your gun because it uses the entire belt drive to power the piston. On top of that, it has the highest recoil of any gear ratio and requires more maintenance of your motor as it is more delicate. Belt-drive Airsoft motors are the most popular type of motor available. Belt-driven motors are used in many top-tier guns, making it an excellent option for the serious Airsoft player who wants the best. The only downside of using a belt drive motor in an Airsoft gun is that the belt can break, and then it’s likely your motor will jam on you. It’s essential to know how to maintain your motor, and a great way to do that is by keeping your belt clean and free of damage.

16:1 Gear Ratio (Manual/Direct Drive)

A 16:1 gear ratio is a middle-of-the-road ratio that uses a mechanical connection between the motor and the gearbox. This means that the engine is directly connected to the gearbox and will continue to operate even if the belt breaks or the motor fails. Direct-drive motors are great if you want to use an electronic component in your gun but don’t want to replace the gearbox. With a direct-drive engine, the motor will still function even if there’s a malfunction with the gearbox. This is a prevalent ratio, the reason is that it can be used with both mechanical and electronic components. It has a medium recoil and allows good speed so you can use it with a wide range of guns.

12:1 Gear Ratio (V Belt-Drive)

A 12:1 gear ratio uses a belt to speed up a mechanical connection between the motor and the gearbox, but it’s slightly different than the 16:1 ratio in that it uses a v-belt. This type of drive means the motor is connected to the gearbox with a leather belt, much less likely to break than the typical rubber belt. Like the direct-drive ratio, the v-belt engine is more likely to stay operational if the gearbox fails. V-belt Airsoft motors are quieter than belt-drive motors and less likely to get caught in things, making them ideal for indoor play. A 12:1 gear ratio also has a low recoil, so it’s ideal for a wide range of guns. It’s a popular ratio for both mechanical and electronic components.

8:1 Gear Ratio (Gearbox)

An 8:1 ratio is the lowest ratio available, which means the engine speed is much lower than the other ratios on this list. It’s one of the few Airsoft motors that run on a single gear. So, it has the lowest output speed of all the ratios on this list. Gearboxes are used in some high-end Airsoft guns, but they’re still commonly used as a backup in lower-end guns. They’re also an excellent choice for outdoor play as they’re quiet and don’t require a battery. If you want to use a low gear ratio for convenience or you want a low-cost motor for backup purposes, this is the ratio for you. It has a low recoil and is quiet, making it an excellent choice for an outdoor or woods-type setting.

6:1 Gear Ratio (Automatic Back-Breaking)

With a 6:1 gear ratio, the motor drives a back-breaking mechanism. This is common in automatic Airsoft guns. Automatic Airsoft guns use a gearbox and a 6:1 gear ratio to provide you with a semi-auto or full-automatic fire rate. This means the gun will fire at one round per second (with the correct gear ratio, you’ll be able to switch to a higher rate of fire). The advantage of an automatic Airsoft gun is that you don’t have to load the magazine manually. You pull back the trigger, and it will automatically fire one BB at a time, which is perfect for close-range encounters or when you need a lot of shots fast. Automatic Airsoft guns will have a higher gear ratio than a 6:1 or 8:1 gear ratio. They’re often best for close quarters or fast-paced Airsoft gun battles because you won’t have to load the magazine manually.

4:1 Gear Ratio

The 4-to-1 gear ratio is the lowest ratio available and the slowest one. It’s the slowest because the motor drives the gearbox with a direct connection. Which means it has the lowest speed and the highest amount of recoil. 4-to-1 gear ratio motors are used in cheap guns and even as backup motors in high-end guns. They’re the most affordable motor you can get, and they’re meant to get the job done when nothing else will. These Airsoft motors are not recommended for serious players because they have high recoil and low speed. You wouldn’t be able to use them in a high-quality gun. This means you’d need a backup motor just in case something happens to your main one.

What’s the difference between a Low-End Airsoft Gun and a Mid-Range Airsoft Gun?

Low-end Airsoft guns are typically sub-$100 guns that offer subpar performance. They’re easy to find in stores and online. They are perfect for beginners who want to learn how to shoot without investing too much money. Mid-range Airsoft guns are a mix of mid-to-high-end guns ranging from $100 to $500. There’s a wide range of guns in this price range. There are even high-end guns that can cost $1,000 or more. Mid-range Airsoft guns offer good performance and are usually equipped with high-quality gearboxes and motors. They’re less budget-friendly than low-end guns but affordable for any Airsoft player.

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